Sunday, December 24, 2006

Headache Prevention Diet

heal your headache I had a small head-injury while biking a few months ago, and have been suffering from persistent headaches every day since. The headaches aren't usually too bad, but they get much worse when I try to do things that normal people do all the time (like traveling by car). I'm told that this is sometimes called Post Traumatic Headache (although I did not receive a formal diagnosis), and it usually goes away on it's own with time.

Well, a few months was long enough so i started talking with a friend of mine who's a life-long migraine sufferer. I had noticed in my reading that different kinds of headaches are often treated the same way, and I thought he might have some good advice. Turns out he had some great advice: a diet described in the book "Heal Your Headache" by Johns Hopkins doctor David Buchholtz.

I was skeptical at first but he told me he's been on the diet for two months, and he's gone off his usual medications and he feels great. When I got the book, and flipped through it, two things struck me: 1. in the introduction, the author explains that his idea is, in scientific terms, a hypothesis (which is an untested idea based on observations), and 2, many of the listed dietary triggers are either widely known to be bad for you, or else often found in food that's bad for you. It was pretty clear reading the book that although little scientific evidence stood in favor of the diet, very little harm could come of it -- aside from avoiding citrus, most of the food Buchholtz recommends avoiding are in the category of "I've heard that some people think that's bad for you".

It's a tricky diet because the categories of food don't make too much sense, and many things you are supposed to avoid, such as MSG, are often not listed in the ingredients in food (MSG may be listed by aliases, such as "Natural Flavorings", or it may be hiding in other ingredients, such as "Malted Barley"). But it's manageable and hasn't meant that much change for me, aside from eliminating a few things that I usually cook and eat and being more careful about restaurants.

I've been on the diet now for four days and I have already noticed that although my morning headache hasn't improved, I feel much better in the evenings. (My headache used to get progressively worse over the course of the day) Well, it may not be science, but his technique seems to work, and that's good enough for me. (A placebo cure is better than no cure, that's for sure)

Sadly, I think Buchholtz discredits himself in three ways: 1. he criticizes doctors a lot, which may appeal to headache sufferers who's doctors have been no help to them, but it hurts the chances of other doctors taking his book seriously; 2. the book looks and reads much like any other self help book, most of which I am naturally skeptical of; and 3. he poo-poos the prospect of scientifically testing his ideas: "Scientists may with to test these hypotheses formally, using randomized controlled trials. Memo to colleges who undertake this challenge: Good Luck and I hope you do it right. If that's possible." He gives several reasons why it might be hard to do so, including his observation that some people are sensitive to some dietary "triggers" and not others, and that the effect of all the "triggers" (dietary or not) is cumulative, so eating chocolate or other dietary trigger might cause a headache one day in one subject, but not on another day or with another subject.

I agree that it would be nearly impossible to test each trigger individually, and that it would be a challenge to convince participants in an experimental trial to really follow the diet (many of his patients say they spend the first month or two just learning and understanding the diet). But there is no reason the hypothesis could not be tested. Rather than studying each trigger, the entire diet should be evaluated. Yes it will be hard to get people on the diet, but scientists do diet studies all the time, many of which are far more restrictive than his diet, so it can be done.

Perhaps one of Buchholz's most controversial claims is that virtually all headaches are migraines. Put another way that might be easier to swallow: there is no fundamental difference between migraines and other headaches. I don't have the medical knowledge to assess this, other than to say he makes a good argument, but I would say that from what I've read online there is generally no difference between the treatment of the various kinds of headaches, even if the diagnosis is different, so it makes sense to me that the underlying cause may be the same.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Rupert Neve Interview Link and Volume War Link

These both came to me from the mastering mailing list recently:

Interesting interview with Rupert Neve, who is considered the "father" of modern mixing consoles. He talks about mikes, mike pres, mastering, analog vs. digital, and digital use and misuse, his new designs, 5.1 surround sound and some other stuff. He's also got a great voice.

Here's an interesting graphic on the volume wars.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Event Power

This year's Fall Fest very nearly didn't happen because of power (at least there was very nearly no music). I've worked on a lot of events since college and I've seen a lot of inexperienced people forget to make arrangements for power altogether. Fall Fest was a little different because power was discussed a number of times, several months in advance, and things still almost didn't work out.

Here are some basic facts about event power that will help you avoid these pitfalls.

Plan in Advance



lots o' powa'Power should not be an afterthought. Whether you are getting power from an existing power distribution point, from a generator, or from temporary power outlets (which can be setup by the utility company), you absolutely must consider a few things well in advance of the event: 1. where you need power, 2. how much power you need, and 3. what quality of power do you need. Lets talk about each of these....

Where Do You Need Power?



The first thing to consider is where you need power. You'll want to consider this early on, especially for a large event, because you don't want to have to redo your site plan, and you definitely don't want to be running to home depot the day of the event to buy orange extension cables, and, if you need more than 20 Amps of power somewhere where you hadn't counted on it, you may be out of luck. If you need a large amount of power, you'll need big extension cables. These cost real money to rent and can take time to track down. If you are planning a large event, you'll probably want to create the site plan to minimize the number of locations you'll need power. If you are planning a small event, such as a small wedding, you may still want to make special considerations for power -- you don't want guests tripping over an ugly extension cord because the band setup on the other side of the room from the only pair of dedicated outlets (more on dedicated power in the quality section).

How Much Power?



Most sound companies and other vendors pad the amount of current they will draw (measured in amperes, or just amps). For example, they may request 30 Amps, when their equipment only requires 15. However, they are not just doing this "to be on the safe side": many pieces of equipment draw much more power when they are first switched on, and often this is not reflected in the equipment's ratings. If you are dealing with separate vendors, make sure they each get a circuit of at least the size they requested. If you need to use extension cords, keep in mind that the ratings of the extensions should exceed the requirements -- especially if the cables are long, because long cables themselves can cause a significant drain on the power system.

What Quality of Power Do You Need?



Here's the biggy: not all power is equal. Audio and video equipment in particular is very susceptible to fluctuations in power, "noise" on the line from other equipment (especially anything with motors or dimmers), and many other things that most equipment won't even notice. Audio/Video people will typically refuse to share a circuit with anyone and many won't share a generator. Considering the cost and sensitivity of the equipment to poor quality power, this is not unreasonable and should be expected.

Other issues



There are other issues. Vendors requiring large amounts of power typically need something other than your run of the mill 120 volt / 20 Amp power. Connection types, current requirements, phase and power factor are just some of the issues you may have to wrestle with. Make sure to get it right or there may be no event.

Safety



Power safety is obviously very important. I can't begin to cover this topic in a little post here, but for starters, make sure to keep it away from water, children and anyone else who doesn't need to get to it. Rented generators should always be properly grounded as required by local code. If cables runs have to me made across an area where you expect pedestrian traffic, be sure to mark it carefully so that no one trips. If you are unsure about any safety issue, contact a licensed electrician.

Other Considerations



lots o' powa'Of course, power is complex, and there's more to it than that. Generators make fumes and need to be refueled. Temporary power tends to be ugly, expensive and may require additional permits and inspections, and, since many people don't understand power well enough to tell you their requirements, you might end up unable to connect some equipment as expected. Be sure to exchange information carefully, and, just in case there's a problem day-of, make sure you have an electrician available.